By Ted Blaszak of Portland, Oregon. Ted is the CEO of Democracy Resources of Oregon, a progressive signature collection firm that pays a living wage, provides a health care benefit, and doesn't hire the usual suspects and mercenaries.
We very much have the capacity to put initiatives on the ballot, but I worry that Oregon Democrats don't have the ideas or the will.
We have Democracy Resources, my company which gathers the signatures necessary for ballot access. We have never failed to place a measure on the ballot, and have done such campaigns in Oregon as raising the minimum wage and saving the Salem Public Library.
The handful of measures we have helped put on the ballot are dwarfed by the avalanche of campaigns that conservatives mount.
We Democrats win on every other level in Oregon. President, Congress, Governor, State Legislature, even Judicial offices, but yet we don't even try to compete for the ballot measure.
Ask yourself: what has done more damage to Oregon? A Republican-controlled House or Measures 5 and 37?
When I moved to this state ten years ago we had great schools, excellent government services, and the most advance land use laws in the nation. Now we rank somewhere between Mississippi and Arkansas.
In just ten years! And all because of Republican ballot measures.
The initiative is cheap and easy, but we disdain them. "Oh I just hate initiatives, we should just ban them" said one party activist to me at last year's conference in Bend.
This attitude stems from the fact we are almost always voting "NO" and spending millions on these no campaigns. But as Sizemore proved in 2000 you need not spend much to put six initiatives on the ballot.
By crowding the ballot, Republicans frame the campaign debate in their favor, increase their voter turnout, and force millions of Democratic dollars to be spent to defeat the thousands that Republicans spend on these ballot measures.
The ballot measure is not going away though. It has been with Oregon for close to a hundred years now. Instead of simply wishing it would disappear, we should make it our own.
The ballot measure once gave women to the right to vote, the dying death with dignity, and permanently raised the minimum wage of workers. It can do even greater things if we have the will and the ideas.
We should start with ideas and perhaps BlueOregon.com is a good format for that. So, I ask you: What would you put on the ballot? What progressive measures would you put before the voters?